5 things I’d like to see my government commit to in 2018

I do my best to avoid having to interact with the government. Which is not to say I’m some anarchist hiding in the woods, rather I find the general process to be so cumbersome and frustrating that I go out of my way to avoid dealing with them at all unless absolutely necessary.

A wise man once told me that it’s very unfair to present a problem without a solution so, in the spirit of just that, here are my 5 things I’d like to see the government adopt to make being one of their citizens just a little less painful*.

And yes I realize this are all “techy” and that’s not everyone’s cup of tea but there’s a clear trend in service provision around the world and any government which isn’t looking towards “Digital by Default” is one that’s being left behind.

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AirPods are a traveller’s best friend

A lot has already been written about Apple’s first foray into the world of wireless audio and it was enough that I grabbed a pair as soon as they became available in my local Apple Authorised Reseller (no official Apple store on Jersey so it took a while). From the outset I’ve been impressed by these little pods.

They simply delivered.

The pairing experience was super slick. Sound quality is amazing (these are not just wireless versions of Apple’s stock buds they ship with every iPhone). Using them as a bluetooth headset for calls is effortless and clear (my trusty Plantronics Voyager Legend, the third of the voyager series I’ve owned, hasn’t been switched on since I got the AirPods). Battery life is good, the charging case is great and they seem to just stay put, more than I can say for my wired buds.

Sure they’re a more open style of bud. My previous in ear were a pair of RHA MA750i which were also stunning and, being the in ear canal style of bud provided a better seal against the world outside but the AirPods are lighter, have no cable tangling round my jacket & neck and, in most cases, the small amount of ambient sound is actually quite useful.┬áSo the Pods are pretty much my daily drive but during a recent trip to Munich they really came into their own (with one exception).

Let’s start with that exception. Flying is a noisy business at the best of times and the leakage of the pods meant I couldn’t completely shut this noise out. Trying to watch a show on Netflix on my phone was impossible as quieter dialog was lost in the wider hubbub of external noise. I’m not sure if there’s a solution that would provide a better seal but it’s a small point and, to be totally honest, I have a separate set of noise cancelling cans for situations where I need total isolation.

Onto the positives. Being able to pop them in and out without worrying about the aforementioned tangling is amazing. During checkin, security, and the flight you’re constantly having to take them out to interact with staff, listen to announcements and the auto pause feature makes this a doddle.

Sound leakage in a preflight situation is actually pretty useful. Being able to hear the announcement is starting (and then seamlessly pop out one of the pods, pausing the audio to listen properly) is really handy. Likewise avoiding the gormless moments where staff are trying to get your attention without then having to dance a can can in front of you is a decent gain.

Having arrived in a new city the pods took on a new level of utility when combined with Google Maps. I suck at navigating a city environment and rely heavily on Google to get me from A to B but in most cases the means a regular check of the phone to verify I’m still on the right track. The AirPods (and any other Bluetooth headset) receive the turn by turn announcements means my phone can stay safely in my pocket for most of the time. Also these announcements overlay music beautifully so I can walk like a total badass, rocking out and not getting totally lost at the same time.

The final winner for travel, these things are tiny and you can slip the case in a pocket or bag without any issues at all. The Pods themselves are pretty discrete (compared to wearing a traditional headset) and so you can listen, talk & navigate without looking like too much of a weirdo.

So if you have an iPhone and are in the market for a new set of buds I can’t recommend Apple’s offering enough – give them a whirl and I doubt you’ll regret it.

My 11 Must Have WordPress Plugins

I’m a huge fan of WordPress. Not because it’s the best CMS out there but because through a combination of experience and the light weight, flexibility of the platform I’ve found I can build most anything I need quickly and easily.

At the heart of this (aside for WordPress itself of course) are a range of plugins that I deploy to pretty much every single site I build. Some are commercial and I have no problem paying the developers for what is often an awesome amount of work. Some are free, some are complex and some are really simple.

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Those who can, should teach

“He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.”

George Bernard Shaw

Man and Superman (1903) “Maxims for Revolutionists”

Both of my parents were teachers and I was privileged enough to actually enjoy most of my schooling thanks to lucky placement within the UK comprehensive system and some dedicated and top class teachers. As such, I’ve always considered the above maxim to be somewhat unfair but at the same time could understand the underlying point especially when taken in the context of the more vocational subjects where the true subject matter experts tend towards actual work in their chosen sphere.

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Thirteen years, looking back and moving forward

It seems strange to think that this particular corner of the web has been around in one form or another since 2003 and yet today marks the 13th anniversary of my first proper blog post.

Of course the archives of those previous sites (I’ve lost count but at least four domain names and half a dozen CMSs have powered all of the various incarnations) have long since been tidied away, memories are great to maintain but not necessarily something you want for all to rummage through. They’re still out there if you know where and how to look, I’ve nothing to hide, but prefer not to make it quite so easy for the voice of 23 year old me to echo out over the cocktail party hubub of history.

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